Somalis have been one of the largest groups to migrate to Australia under its provisions for refugee and humanitarian resettlement. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Melbourne in 2000-2001, we explore how the loss of social relationships as a result of civil war and displacement contribute to women’s distress and sadness. To explore the erosion of social relationships among Somalis in Australia, and how this affects everyday life and women’s well-being, we draw on the concepts of social capital and social networks. We suggest that social networks among Somalis in Melbourne are problematic, restricting women’s capacity to use and create social capital to settle in Australia. However, the concept of social capital only partially accounts for women’s continued sense of displacement. Well-being is not just about contemporary social structures and activities, it is also affected by how women use the past to give meaning to the present. We argue that women’s understandings of contemporary social relations are given comparative meaning through their juxtaposition with memories of social worlds in Somalia.

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